There’s a bit of a story behind me being so eager to review this unit, so bear with me for a minute. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a water cooling setup for a few years now. But every time I’ve come close to buying an expensive, high end water setup, I’ve realized how completely useless one would be for my purposes.
During the time I’ve spent on the OC benching team, I’ve realized I’m an air guy. If I want to push any clocks past the cooling capability of a high end air cooler, I grab some dry ice or liquid nitrogen. Of course when I’m out of the cold stuff, and wanting to do some benching at 2:00am, I start wishing I had some better non-extreme cooling options laying around. But those few times don’t justify the expense of spending however much a high end water setup costs.
The computer I use for a daily driver is usually a mATX setup, often run at stock, or close to stock settings. In my small mATX box, there’s hardly room for the stock Intel HSF, much less anything more substantial. Last month I reviewed MSI’s H55M-ED55 and liked it enough to start using it for my primary computer, along with a Core i3 530. We all know the overclocking potential on Intel’s new(ish) 32nm CPUs, and although I hadn’t had my daily computer overclocked in quite a long time, I couldn’t resist on this one. After all, I had already volt modded the motherboard for vcore, and with the resistor tuned to maximum resistance, there is a couple tenths of a volt increase in vCore, so why waste it? And removing the volt mod would have been silly. So I bumped the CPU frequency to around 3.3GHz, I didn’t want to go much higher on the stock Intel heatsink. So my search began for a better cooling solution for my tiny mATX case. I again toyed with the idea of building a water cooling system, but in addition to the cost involved, the thought of having all the extra water cooling gear hanging out of my case, like a radiator, pump, reservoir, etc., didn’t appeal to me all that much.
When I was asked to review CoolIT’s ECO A.L.C., it was like a light went off in my head. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? A full water setup hanging out of my case is an idea I wasn’t too fond of, but a couple of small water lines and a single 120mm radiator is no problem.
In the past few years, CoolIT has built their reputation on delivering quality and innovation, both by introducing new ideas to the computer cooling market, and improving on existing ones.
CoolIT CPU FHE (Fluid Heat Exchanger)
Universal Retention System
Out of the box support provided
for Intel 775, 1156, 1366 and
AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 sockets.
CoolIT Proprietary Pump
Quiet, compact, long life CFF1 pump
Life Cycle: 50,000 Hours MTTF
CoolIT Systems low toxicity with anticorrosion/anti-fungal additives
Custom engineered for low noise high heat dissipation
High reliability, Quiet 12V
Speed: 1800 RPM MAX
CoolIT CPU Thermal Grease
CoolIT Systems Pro A.T.C.
(Advanced Thermal Compound)
CoolIT 2 Year Manufacturer Warranty
The ECO A.L.C. comes in a simple white box, as if CoolIT doesn’t feel they need to add gaudy packaging to sell a product. I like it.
The ECO A.L.C. comes with mounting for LGA 775, 1156, 1366, and AM2/AM3 sockets. There is a backplate for each Intel socket, but the mounting screws on the block are adjustable, so the backplate is the only part that changes between different Intel sockets.
Going by online pictures alone, I was expecting the ECO’s block to be a little smaller than Corsair’s H50. But once mounting is taken into consideration, they’re roughly the same size. However, the CoolIT unit certainly looks better in my opinion.
You can see the typical configuration for this unit on CoolIT’s website. This wasn’t a viable configuration in my case. Although I could have grabbed a full size ATX case from my shelf and installed everything in it, I felt fitting the ECO A.L.C. into my primary computer was more relevant.
- Core i5 530 @ 4214MHz
- MSI H55M-ED55
- 2x2GB D9JNL DDR3 @ 1530MHz, 7-7-7-20 1T
- Onboard Intel GMA HD graphics @ ~900MHz
- Antec Aria mATX case
- CPU Cooling: CoolIT ECO A.L.C. and Corsair H50
- Thermal interface material: Arctic Silver 5
- Stock configurations
- Corsair H50 stock fan on both units
- Panaflo FBA12G12M
- Delta FFB1212VHE
Mounting method: I mounted each cooling solution five times, with Arctic Silver 5, and took the results from the best mount. Actually, all of the mounts with the CoolIT unit were extremely consistent. Mounting the Corsair unit was a bit more challenging, especially in my tiny case. But once mounted, results were also reasonably consistent. When I say extremely consistent, I mean <1° margin. When I say reasonably consistent, I mean between one and two degrees. It’s hard to get a bad mount on a heatsink if you’ve done it a thousand times, regardless if you’ve used the product before or not.
Each fan was run at full speed, connected directly to the computer’s power supply, as opposed to the CPU fan header. Ambient temps remained consistently between 23° and 24° C.
Testing method: For idle temperature testing, I let the processor idle for 5 minutes and took a screenshot. For load testing, I loaded the CPU with LinX v.0.6.4 set to 4 threads. I took the CPU reading after 5 minutes.
For the first round of testing, each unit was equipped with it’s stock fan, so essentially an “out of the box” configuration. In these stock configurations, the two units show nearly equal performance.
Next, I mounted the H50′s stock fan to the ECO A.L.C. to get a comparison with both units having an identical low-speed fan. Using the same low speed fan, while idle temperatures are near identical, the H50 seems to have a small edge over the ECO A.L.C.
Switching over to a more substantial fan evened things back out. Panaflo’s FBA12G12M offers a nice balance between noise and performance. If I was running the ECO A.L.C. inside a normal case, this is the fan I would pair with it.
The Delta FFB1212VHE is a monster, bringing temps down about as far as they’re going to go given the ambient temperature during testing. Again, both units are fairly even.
Final Thoughts And Conclusion
CoolIT has done an outstanding job of taking a proven design, and putting their own spin on it. Comparable to Corsair’s H50 in both price and performance, I feel the ECO A.L.C. offers a substantial value advantage, based on the superior mounting method alone. Since I finished the testing for this review several weeks before finally getting this published, I’ve had the ECO A.L.C. in continuous operation, cooling the same processor as above, clocked at 4.6GHz, running Folding@Home 24/7. Performance has remained consistent, and I’ve had no problems to speak of. My implementation of this unit is somewhat unique, and if I had to choose any cooling solution for my unique situation, it would be the CoolIT ECO A.L.C. hands down.
I’d like to thank CoolIT and Overclockers.com for making testing of this product possible, as well as being extremely patient while I took my time to get this review written.